Virginia Union University Joins Research in Innovative Aerospace Transportation and Smart Energy Solutions

May 05, 2022

(RICHMOND, VA) -- May 5, 2022 -- Virginia Union University (VUU), a nationally-ranked HBCU located in Richmond, Virginia, announced today the creation of its new Center for Technology and Innovation in partnership with Paragon VTOL Aerospace - a smart energy provider and hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) passenger aircraft company specializing in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) for commercial use. 

“We are excited to form this partnership with Paragon VTOL Aerospace to take a hands-on, innovative approach to meeting the transportation needs of our evolving world,” said Hakim J. Lucas, President and CEO of the VUU. “We have committed to this partnership with Paragon VTOL to further the opportunities for VUU within the Paragon universe through various channels.” 

Housed under VUU’s Union National Research Institute, the new center will allow students to gain real-life experience testing out innovative passenger and cargo transportation methods through the use of drones that sustainably meet the needs of the future. The center opens in Summer 2022 and students are able to engage in research and development with Paragon VTOL and STEM faculty in Fall 2022.  

“Through our partnership with Paragon VTOL, our students will have the opportunity to research and study the use of Urban Air Mobility,” said Dr. Linda Jackson, Assistant Vice President for Sponsored Research, Programs, and Scholarly Initiatives at VUU. “Technology is transforming the way we transport goods and we want to provide our students with the experiences and knowledge they need to be at the forefront of this evolution.” 

Students will be challenged to seek solutions to transforming transportation for vital medical resources, such as vaccines and organisms, safely and efficiently, as well as determine the feasibility of drone usage for all product transportation. 

Through its partnership with VUU, Paragon VTOL, recognizing the disparity in minority executive leadership, plans to implement an executive leadership pathway within the Paragon Universe for students enrolled in the research program at the university. VUU and Paragon VTOL have committed to continually strengthening the partnership by providing sustainable economic opportunities for VUU students and the institution. 

“In order for the fourth industrial revolution to become viable, we will need to create sustainable jobs by developing educational partnerships within all communities, especially the underserved and underrepresented,” said Dwight Thanos Smith, Executive Chairman and Chief Visionary Officer of Paragon VTOL Aerospace. “We are pleased to partner with VUU, to implement sustainable initiatives for the future of our planet along with the commitment to implement the research component with VUU students and faculty.”  

This new center moves VUU another step closer to its 2025 “Best in Class” goal of being recognized as a Top 10 HBCU in the country. 


About Virginia Union University 

Virginia Union University is a public-serving HBCU and recognized as a private institution by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia. VUU is a premier liberal arts urban institution of higher education and center of excellence for the preparation of students and the development of leaders for tomorrow’s world. It was founded in 1865 to give newly emancipated slaves an opportunity for education and advancement. Virginia Union University offers a broad range of educational opportunities that advance liberal arts education, teaching, research, science, technology, continuing education, civic engagement, and international experiences. Visit www.vuu.edu for more information. 

About Paragon VTOL Aerospace 

Paragon VTOL Aerospace is dedicated to creating an infrastructure driven by a sustainable ecosystem. Through sustainability, both safety and cost effective techniques are the keys to transform mobility for the 21st century and beyond. From smart energy solutions, cybersecurity, to various types of transportation specific products, Paragon offerings meet and exceed industry needs for the ever evolving future. Paragon VTOL Aerospace is dedicated to creating a smart planet through direct technology, critical diversity and inclusion efforts all driven by an approach of true environmental stewardship.